Boxing

How Hot Was It?

How Hot Was It?

The temperature was about 105 degrees on that day in 1915 when Jack Johnson fought Jess Willard—unless it was closer to 70.

When Tokyo Was Tyson Town

When Tokyo Was Tyson Town

His 1988 battle with Tony Tubbs in Tokyo would be the last time that the world saw Tyson so serene, or at least stable. Storms were breaking around him. 

Jack Johnson Crosses the Line, 1908

Jack Johnson Crosses the Line, 1908

The first black man to win the heavyweight title, Johnson was breaking a color line first drawn by John L. Sullivan.

When the Champs Suited Up (and Didn't)

When the Champs Suited Up (and Didn't)

In honor of Veterans Day, some thoughts on the heavyweight champions and military service

My Path to "The Boxing Kings"

My Path to "The Boxing Kings"

The Boxing Kings is my attempt to encapsulate a long-running interest in the heavyweight champions into one narrative that includes them all.

Gentleman Jim and John L., on the Big Screen

Gentleman Jim and John L., on the Big Screen

Had Sullivan and Corbett lived to see their lives portrayed on film, it would no doubt have been another source of discord that here, too, Corbett had the upper hand.

Old-Fashioned Heroes: Braddock and "Cinderella Man"

Old-Fashioned Heroes: Braddock and "Cinderella Man"

In the end, how you react to Cinderella Man probably tracks how you feel about traditionally minded movies—and perhaps traditional values, to boot. 

Jack Johnson, the Unknowable

Jack Johnson, the Unknowable

Part of the intrigue for the reader is trying to parse when he is in earnest, when he is knowingly deceiving us, and when he is perhaps deceiving himself.

The quotable Joe Louis

Louis had a wry sense of humor and a gift for getting to the nub of a matter without the language clutter that often afflicts better-educated speakers

Boyle's Thirty Acres: July 2, 1921

Boyle's Thirty Acres: July 2, 1921

Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier marked the arrival of boxing (and American sports) as commercial and cultural juggernaut.

Tyson and Holyfield, 20 years after the bite

Tyson and Holyfield, 20 years after the bite

In the 20 years since, it has become commonplace to blame the ear-biting incident for the decline of boxing. 

Smokin' Joe at the mike

Smokin' Joe at the mike

Joe Frazier was all heart, in the ring and out, and that quality comes through in his singing.

Floyd's Comeback Night

Floyd's Comeback Night

Unlike most of the heavyweight champions before him who had gone seeking their lost titles, Patterson was young—just 25—with plenty of fight left in him, and he determinedly analyzed the first fight and his mistakes. 

Colorblind wisdom from George Foreman

Colorblind wisdom from George Foreman

From the introduction to George Foreman's 1995 autobiography, By George," if you find yourself guessing or wondering about one person or another’s color, please ask yourself why you need to know."

Heavyweight singers: Muhammad Ali

Heavyweight singers: Muhammad Ali

For all their punching, blocking, and feinting, the heavyweight champions also did a fair amount of singing...

The "Kennedy Assassination of Boxing"

The "Kennedy Assassination of Boxing"

The second fight between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali, on May 25, 1965, was controversial even before it took place.

Ali v. Evangelista

Ali v. Evangelista

This was the first time I got to see an Ali fight on television, live...It’s hard to describe how big Ali was by this time to people who didn’t grow up then...

Marciano v. Walcott II—the great anticlimax

Marciano v. Walcott II—the great anticlimax

Few champions had ever gained more praise in losing their title than did Jersey Joe Walcott when he was defeated by Rocky Marciano in 1952; unfortunately, the rematch in 1953 turned out to be a bitter disappointment. 

Anniversary of heavyweight bout: Corbett v. Jeffries

Anniversary of heavyweight bout: Corbett v. Jeffries

On this day in 1900, on Coney Island, heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries knocked out former champion James J. Corbett in the 23rd round of a fight scheduled for 25 rounds. The bout is famous for the brilliant performance of the 34-year-old Corbett...

Pull your pants up!

Pull your pants up!

Joe Frazier was a no-nonsense man, in the ring and out. There was never any pretense about him.  A small taste of those qualities came through in 2004, when he sat down with Esquire...